Locust invasion threatens crops in Zanskar

By Rigzin Tsewang Zanskar, Oct 01, 2015
Zanskar :
The outbreak of this disastrous insect (Locust) brought doomsday for the people of this region. This is for the second time Zanskar is being attacked by locust, once in 2011 and again this summer.

According to the villagers, the district agriculture department sprayed insecticide once when the insect was at a juvenile stage but it hardly could make any impact. By the time the crops reap, it turned into adult and caused extensive damage to standing crops and eaten away 50 percent of the farmers produce and the farmer there had to harvest much before the time crops reap owning to locust menace.

When the only means of living is destroyed the situation is understood to be in grim enough. The agricultural department doesn’t seem to have enough expertise to control a crisis of this magnitude. During my recent visit to Zanskar, I have seen these adult insect mating in large numbers and obviously the eggs will hatch into nymph at the beginning of next summer to cause destruction again. 

Also, these insects are found lying on and covered the road nearby field which make difficult even to drive car on the road. The situation really calls for the “Central Integrated pest management” intervention for timely action so that some measure can be taken to control and its further prevention from spreading in other areas of Ladakh.

The district administration and the LAHDC Kargil haven’t even thought of forming a team yet to assess the damage caused by these insects. The people of Zanskar desperately call for adequate compensation and concrete measure to get rid of its menace in future as well. The people of Zanskar need to be fairly compensated for the loss that is free ration for at least 4 months. Moreover, the administration should approach to state and central government to find a way to effectively control this insect and to prevent further destruction of crops.

Over 95 percent of the inhabitant of Zanskar are depended on  Agriculture farming. 

The main agriculture produce is wheat, Barley, Peas and few vegetables. They are subsistence farming and produce enough not to be dependent on the external market. For their produce, they do a lot of manual physical hard work throughout the summer even without the use of modern agriculture implements.

Moreover, that they have to collect hay and grass for their cattle to feed them the whole of winter month which keep them busy throughout the summer. Life there is indeed hard though you will always see the smile of contentment on their faces.

The whole of Zanskar depend on their little agriculture produces and there are no any other means of living other than few tourists.Agriculture and cattle farming are the only means of living. 

Locusts: are the swarming phases of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae. In the solitary phase these grasshoppers are innocuous, their numbers are low and they cause little economic threat to agriculture. However, under suitable conditions of drought followed by rapid vegetation growth, serotonin in their brains triggers a dramatic set of changes and they start to breed abundantly, becoming gregarious and nomadic (loosely described as migratory) when their populations become dense enough. They form bands of wingless nymphs which later become swarms of winged adults. Both the bands and the swarms move around and rapidly strip fields and cause damage to crops. The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.